Wilma Powell–The REGULATOR

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Wilma Powell a.k.a. The REGULATOR (photo: Courtesy Port of Long Beach

Wilma Powell
a.k.a. The REGULATOR
(photo: Courtesy Port of Long Beach)

Wilma Powell changed the way women’s roles are viewed at ports across the nation and the world, earning her the title, The Regulator, at the Port of Long Beach.

The first woman in the nation to hold the position of Chief Wharfinger, Wilma Powell was the first and only woman, and the first African American to be promoted to the executive position, and one of the highest levels of management at the Port of Long Beach, Director of Trade and Maritime Services, to whom the Chief Wharfinger reports. As Director of Trade and Maritime Services, Powell traveled throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe to meet with national and international executives whose companies–including Target, Walmart, Lowes, Payless Shoes, Home Depot, Nike, K-Mart, JC Penny and Sears, to name a few–that ship merchandise through the Port of Long Beach.

Port of Long Beach

Port of Long Beach

After 25 years as one of the most important persons in the more than 100-year history of the Port of Long Beach, with appointments to its highest positions–Port Chief Wharfinger, a.k.a. Port Chief Regulator, and Director of Trade and Maritime Services, Wilma Powell was presented with a commemorative REGULATOR Clock, which represents the high esteem with which she was held during her tenure at the Port of Long Beach.

Wilma Powell's Commemorative REGULATOR Clock, a gift upon her retirement from the Port of Long Beach

Wilma Powell’s Commemorative REGULATOR Clock, a gift upon her retirement from the Port of Long Beach

Wilma Powell’s commemorative REGULATOR Clock is one of the artifacts to be displayed in the upcoming BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition, comprised of collections of historical photographs, document restorations, artifacts, official papers, memorabilia and much more on 12 African American LEGENDS who made a difference to the cultural history of Long Beach, California.

The other LEGENDS are: Carrie Bryant, first African American owner and operator of a private Long Beach school; Alta Cooke, first African American Long Beach High School Principal and Honorary Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff; Dale Clinton, first African American Long Beach Civil Rights Activist to write letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter in Library of Congress; Maycie Herrington; first African American Long Beach recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal and first Tuskegee Airmen historian; Evelyn Knight, Long Beach Civil Rights activist who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King from the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, March 1965; Patricia Lofland, first African American Member and   President of the Board of Trustees at Long Beach City College; Autrilla Scott, Autrilla Scott, first African American Long Beach Resident Honored with street name, Autrilla Scott Lane; Vera Mulkey, first African American City of Long Beach Chief of Staff; Bobbie Smith, first African American female elected to Public Office in Long Beach, first African American Faculty Senate President at Long Beach City College and has school named in her honor; Doris Topsy-Elvord, first African American Member and President of the Long Beach Harbor Commission and first African American female Long Beach City Council Member and Vice Mayor; and Lillie Mae Wesley, first African American to challenge Long Beach City Cemetery burial policy.

Leadership Long Beach Long Beach, California

Leadership Long Beach
Long Beach, California

The BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way (BTLW) Exhibition opens Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 4-7:00 p.m at the Long Beach Public Library (101 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach CA) Atrium Level. Be sure to see the BTLW FaceBook Page for details. While you’re there, be sure to LIKE their page. The overall project sponsor is Leadership Long Beach. Wilma Powell served as this community organization’s first African American president.


Sponsors – Partners – Donors


Leadership Long Beach – Project Sponsor

Port of Long Beach – Premier Signature Sponsor

Robin Perry & Associates – Signature Sponsor

Supervisor Don Knabe – Signature Sponsor

Arts Council for Long Beach – Signature Sponsor

Molina Healthcare – Signature Sponsor

City of Long Beach – Partner

LA County Sheriff’s Department – Partner

Historical Society of Long Beach – Partner

Long Beach Public Library – Partner

Long Beach City College – Partner

Long Beach Unified School District – Partner

Pepperdine University – Partner

International Realty – Donor

Chick-fil-A Towne Center Long Beach – Donor

Andy Street Community Association – Donor

Tuttle Cameras Long Beach – Donor


Shooting Without A Gun


In the neighborhood I grew up in, guns, knives, fists, chains and other weapons were common. I saw first hand what guns and other violence could do to a neighborhood, a family, a childhood.

On weekends, people got drunk and forgot what they had been taught at home, if they had ever been taught anything at home. As a child, I saw this behavior around me, no matter how hard my mother tried to shield me from it. The behavior was in my family. Cousins, aunts, uncles who visited sometimes had too much to drink, and sometimes started fights with each other or friends or neighbors or anyone handy.

Walking home from school, I passed five beer joints where drunks staggered to the sides of the buildings to relieve themselves in plain view. Fights were so common, we simply crossed the street to avoid being hit by flying beer bottles. My cousin was shot in the arm passing by a beer joint at mid-day. All the violence around me was hard to digest. People were saying it was because poor black people felt cheated and discriminated against; and they didn’t know any other way to handle their frustrations than violence.

Even the president wasn’t safe from the violence. President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas as I watched on television with the rest of my schoolmates. Some Americans said they were not saddened by his assassination and blamed his liberal Civil Rights policies for his death.

Kennedy_signing bill

President John F. Kennedy

At the time, I was child struggling with a life that was filled with violence. If the president of the United States could not be protected from violence, how could I feel safe? Television was filled with police violence against civil rights marchers and bus riders. Dogs were even set loose on little school children protesting Jim Crow laws.

When a man killed a cousin of mine by beating her to death with a car chain, he went to prison for about a year. I vowed to kill him when he got out, not because I was afraid of him. I felt pure vengence when I stole my grandmother’s gun from her underwear drawer. But I couldn’t find her bullets. She discovered my plan and confronted me. Later, she presented me with a Brownie camera and said, “Now, you can shoot without a gun.

Read more about Sunny Nash’s childhood in her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, about life with her part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, during the era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations; listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida.

African American Women in the Olympics

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African American women have a long history in the Olympic Games, having qualified for Olympic events since 1932.

 In 1929, Tuskegee Institute in Alabama organized one of the nation’s first female track and field teams and campaigned for the inclusion of its black athletes in Olympic competition, starting with the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

1948 Olympic Gold Medalist, Alice Coachman


1988 Olympic Gold Medalist, Florence FloJo Griffith-Joyner


2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, Gabby Douglas

In both the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games and the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, two Tuskegee track stars, Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett, earned their places on the U.S. Olympic track and field team. In both Games, 1932 and 1936, U.S. Olympic officials replaced Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett at the last minute with white runners they had previously defeated.

U.S. politics, Jim Crow laws and racist policies played as significant a role as foreign influences in both the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. In 1936, some observers blaimed the German government for forcing a change in the line-up of the women’s team because of that’s country’s attitudes toward non-Aryans, including 20-year-old German-Jewish high jumper, Gretel Bergmann. This German policy against non-Aryans may have caused the Americans to remove Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett from the line-up in 1936.

Because the world was involved in World War II, the Olympic Games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944. The next Olympic Games were held in 1948 in London. In that Olympic Games, African American female track and field stars set records and won medals. And since that time, African American female Olympians–from high jumper Alice Coachman, the first African American female gold medal winner, to sprinter Florence FloJo Joyner, fastest and flashiest Olympian in track and winner of three gold medals, to gymnast Gabby Douglas, most recent of the African American female gold medal winners–have been making Olympic history and showing the world who they are.


Sunny Nash is author of Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, chosen by the Association of American University Presses for its value to the understanding of U.S. race relations and recommended for Native American Collection by the Miami-Dade Public Library System.

Ethel Waters & Jim Crow Television

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When Ethel Waters entered show business, television and radio broadcasting, film making and music recording were in their infancy. Watersachieved fame and fortune in Hollywood as an actor in race movies. Radio and television producers, bandleaders, songwriters and executives in the music recording industry took notice of Waters as she developed into a natural talent in front of the camera as television was being born.


Known as the first black female superstar, Ethel Waters became one of the most popular and highest-paid entertainers of her day, rising up from her humble childhood, daughter of a rape victim, mostly raising herself on the streets of Chester, Pennsylvania, until she married at age 13. She soon left the abusive husband, moved to Philadelphia and became a hotel maid until she was encouraged to sing a couple of songs. That changed everything. At age 17, the youngster began singing and dancing her way through the vaudeville circuits to Broadway to Hollywood and became the second African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for her 1949 performance as Dicey Johnson

in the movie, Pinky.

Kenny Burrell – Jazz Guitarist At Work

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Check out this website I found at articlesbase.com

Kenny Burrell, one of the greatest living jazz-blues guitarists, celebrated his birthday on July 31 and, at age 81, he is still a man at work.

Sunny Nash U.S. Race Relations Blogger Posts

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List of Sunny Nash Race Relations Blogger Posts

Sunny Nash, a leading author on U.S. race relations, is the author of Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’sabout life with her part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement. Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations; listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida.


The former syndicated columnist for Knight-Ridder and Hearst newspapers, internationally acclaimed photographer and award-winning producer uses her book to write articles and blogs on race relations in America through topics relating to her life–from music, film, early radio and television, entertainment, social media, internet technology, publishing, journalism, sports, education, employment, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, women’s issues, adolescence and childhood, equal rights, social and political movements–past and present—to today’s post-racism.

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List of Sunny Nash Race Relations Blogger Posts

Tuskegee Airmen, Jim Crow Laws and Black Pilots

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During the era of Jim Crow laws in America, the Tuskegee Airmen, some of whom became Red Tails, the first black pilots trained for U.S. military service, flew World War II (WWII) combat missions and helped to desegregate the American army.

When Tuskegee Institute in Alabama was chosen to train black pilots for the Tuskegee Airmen project, the Civilian Pilot Training Program had already completed aeronautical training of students by May 1940. Tuskegee’s Moton Airfield Institute was named for Robert Russa Moton, its second president, and funded by the Julius Rosenwald Fund.

There were also women providing support services at the institute for the Tuskegee Airmen.

One of those women was Maycie Herrington, a clerk at the Tuskegee Airmen Training Institute. After the war, Herrington became a member of the Tuskegee Airmen non-profit service organization. Since that time, she has spent most of her adult life collecting, organizing and preserving historic documents and photographs concerning the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group that produced a fearless group of WWII air warriors, the Red Tails, getting this name when the black pilots painted the tails of their aircraft red to distinguish their planes from others.

In 2007, President George W. Bush presented Maycie Herrington, about 300 surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen and other support personnel Congressional Gold Medals for their service to WWII and the United States of America.

The adventures of this heroic group of fighter pilots is so amazing that George Lucas devoted a quarter-century of his life raising funds to produce the action movie, Red Tails, telling the story of this era of Jim Crow laws. 

The heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen went much deeper than flying airplanes over a burning and bombed-out Europe. Their heroism extended into personal safety in their own army due to racism and discrimination that existed on their homeland.

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